My Pinto Bean Experiments

Pinto beans are cheap, and they are very good for you.  You can get the dry pintos over at the Mexican grocer for as little as 39 cents a pound.  Making them taste good is a lot harder than I thought!  I’ve ruined one pot making some with chorizo in them.. blukkk.   I made a crock pot of them yesterday after soaking them and threw them out.

On the crock pot one I added diced tomatoes at the start,  and bacon, and bacon grease, and I think the bacon grease soured the deal.  They weren’t “inedible” but they just weren’t very good.  They took a LONG time to cook on low, about 16 hours, and were still not as soft as I wanted them to be.  I cooked them in chicken bullion, not water.

To summarize, I got too fancy with them, too soon.

Many people do not like beans.  Even Bambi, who is a “soul food” style cook, does not like them.  Said Bambi, “That’s all we had when we was kids. and I dont likes ’em now.”

I’ve had much better luck with the canned beans, only they are not such a cheap deal.  However, tonight I made some tasty beans.  I used a can of Sav A Lot pintos,  which I cooked with a little powdered chicken bullion,  some jarred Nopales (cactus), BBQ sauce, and bits of pork fat from  some country style ribs I was cooking.  Pretty tasty.  The Cactus adds a kind of sour taste, offset by the sweet bbq sauce.  The chicken bullion adds a salt taste, so even the cheap SavALot beans really taste good.

The Sav A Lot brand pintos, ‘Wyldwood‘ or something, are really good.  They are cooked just right.  Not too mushy, but not too firm.  The sauce that they are in is pretty good, pretty fair.  It’s plain, but “beansy” sauce.  The chicken bullion macked it right up, then I started experimenting with other “additives”.

The fat from the BBQ’s Country style ribs added flavor, but a few pieces of simple bacon might have been better.  Bacon adds that sort of “smokey” taste to them.  It seems to go better with the beans when it is raw.

If you have thought of trying the jarred Nopales Cactus, don’t hesitate.  The taste of the Cactus compliments the beans well.  I did not use the whole jar of Nopales, but just a few pieces. I drained the pieces of cactus first.  The juice is very good for you, but it is sour, and I didn’t think too much cactus juice would taste so good.  In the pintos I made tonight, I also added in a couple of teaspoons of BBQ sauce. One note: the cactus juice is clear, thick, and syrupy.

Cactus is sour, and tangy.  It goes good with the beans.  Boy, even the cheapo brand canned pintos are cooked perfectly.  Not too soft, but not hard either.  The canned pintos with cactus I just fixed pleased me well.  I will try to make them in the crock pot again, but this time very conservatively.  In just some chicken broth, with a few pieces of raw bacon.  I think the tomatoes made them so tough.  When I get it right, it will be a bonanza of cheap, but tasty protein.  I need to make them so that they are pleasant to the palate.

Cactus is also very good for you.  Beans are cheaper than even ramen noodles,  and are said to be very healthful.  So,  I want to learn to cook them so that they are more than just..”edible”.  I want to make them so they taste GOOD.

Tonight, I am trying once more with the crock pot beans.  I used just chicken broth., 4 slices raw bacon,  garlic powder, and pepper.  When they cook up I will try some of the other additives.  BBQ sauce, Cactus, maybe some green salsa.  Last time it was the juice from the diced tomatoes that I disliked.

Update: Well the third time was the charm. I cooked it through, then added some Nopales, about 1/4 cup bbq sauce.  Excellent, with a excellent bean gravy. It was very good, and boy the price is right.  I am not a soul food lover.  I used to turn my nose up at these type of beans.  These are right tasty.  I became interested in these ‘cos of the price, and also the health benefit of them.

Update Again:  Made a batch I didnt like and threw them out.  I used medium salsa in that one, and some anaheim peppers.. whew.. too hot.  Nope.  I like the hearty..smokey taste.  I am making my 5th pot with the bacon recipe, and lots of ham hocks.  Gonna add the cactus at the end.  Did NOT soak this time either…what a bold fellow I am.

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